How HTC could rebuild the One brand
Building a brand is pretty easy. You come up with a name, you slap it on a product and you hope people buy it. Building a successful brand is a whole different ball game. While there are thousands of products which can be easily recognized by the general public, there are only a few hundred which really stand out on their own. The issue isn’t that all the other products are bad, but that companies have invested millions of dollars into building the brands which are household names.
When it comes to smartphones and tablets, this issue becomes even more evident. There are hundreds of Android and Windows Phone devices on the market, but the general public has a hard time recognizing them all and gravitates towards the ones which have recognizable names. I’m sure we’ve had an experience with a friend or family member who’s looking for a new phone, but all they know is that they need an iPhone, Droid or that new Galaxy phone. While these are general terms which don’t point to a specific device, the public seems to think that they are the best options available to them.
When HTC unveiled the HTC One X, One XL , One S and One V, we were promised that HTC was going to be laser focused on the brand and build its One series devices into a household name. But they failed right from the start. Having four devices under the One brand was fine, but the naming convention simply caused too much confusion. But things only got worse from there. In the US, HTC allowed AT&T to launch the One XL as the One X, eastern Europe and Asia got a second version of the HTC One S with a slower processor and HTC went on to launch a half dozen other phones under the One brand.
While HTC promised to bring clarity with the One brand, it’s impossible to know what qualifies a phone to carry the name.
With the impending launch of HTC M7, rumors have been floating around that the new flagship phone will be launching as the HTC One, signaling that HTC may be ready for another brand reset. The name itself may sound a bit bland when compared to the HTC One X+, but simplicity may be exactly what HTC needs to set itself apart from the competition.
From our point of view, naming the HTC M7 the HTC One is pure genius – as long as HTC keep the One name exclusive. It would be nearly impossible for HTC to stop producing dozens of phone variations for the different markets that the company services, but there’s no reason why the HTC One brand can’t be separated from the noise.
Rebuilding the HTC One brand
To build HTC One into a successful brand, HTC needs to take a few cues from Apple and the automotive industry. While automotive manufacturers introduce new brands every now and then, most of their time and money is spend on creating the next version of last year’s car. The design typically changes a little, specifications are tweaked, but the name stays the same. The reason they don’t mess with the name is because they have invested unfathomable amounts over money over countless years to build a brand that everyone recognizes.
In the smartphone and computer world, Apple has done exactly the same thing. The iPhone name has stayed mostly the same since it was originally introduced in 2007. Apple has simply added a letter or a number at the end of the name to distinguish the devices from each other. In the computer space, Apple has essentially done the same thing with its MacBook Air and Pro lines, creating streamlined brands with products which are only distinguishable by their specifications and design evolution over time.
If HTC is truly planning to change the way it goes to market, the HTC One brand needs to be simple and laser focused. That being said, there’s definitely room for more than one product under the brand name. The way we see it, HTC could have three to four HTC One products, but the names need explain exactly what the product is.
Since HTC likes to product different device with varying specs, here’s now we see the HTC one brand playing out.
- HTC One: the HTC M7, a flagship Android device with a 4.7-inch 1080p display.
- HTC One Mini: the HTC M4, a mid-rand Android device with a 4.3-inch display.
- HTC One Pad: an Android powered tablet to compete with the iPad and Samsung’s tablet offerings.
Three distinct devices with simple names. It can’t get any simpler than that. While it may be a little confusing at first, HTC should not change the names of these devices when new iterations are pushed out each year. Consumers have come to expect simplified names for their cars, so there’s no reason why HTC can’t do it for smartphone or tablets.
With a simplified HTC One brand, HTC should have no issues creating a household name for its flagship devices. It would allow HTC to throw its entire marketing budget into a unified marketing campaign, giving HTC products unprecedented exposure. Who knows, HTC could even change its tag line from “Quietly Brilliant” to something more daring as the company finds its voice and build a brand that consumers recognize and love.